“In these poems about the relationship between a mother and son, about dyslexia and language itself (‘the dangling hooks of “f”s and “t”s’), Helen Kay forges an idiom which is both tender and firm. Kay draws us into the experience of living in a society shaped around neurotypical expectations. The poems that result are angry and searching. But in feeling out the boundaries of language, they achieve a ‘seedling syntax’ which is alive and beautiful.” Will Harris
“These poems are quicksilver – deft, concise, witty and full of fresh ways of saying things. With empathy, and sometimes anger, they skilfully lead the reader into a world of words that confounds expectation but contains its own very specific delights.” Judy Brown
“We are told ‘all shapes are made to fit’, but sometimes the world has a preordained notion of ‘shape’ that does not include people with dyslexia. In Helen Kay’s latest publication, she reflects on a ‘mother-son bond’, as they navigate a childhood where dyslexic can mean being ‘labelled “slow’’’. This Lexia & Other Languages will awaken you to their world, to ‘hear it, taste it, feel it’ in all its devastating complexity.” Elisabeth Sennitt Clough
This Lexia & Other Languages is very genuine and very human.
A sample poem from This Lexia & Other Languages can be enjoyed below.
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Short Term Memory Loss
It starts with an empty tight-lipped jug
or a foggy eviction from my narrative.
Familiar names are clinging to my tongue
I lose my spectacles and wash my purse.
A slush of turnips blackens in a pan.
Others fear dementia. I was born misplacing
mid-stairs, purpose waves goodbye. I float.
Quiz time. I parrot an answer, claim its mine.
At night I lie awake to rescue hunches
that it started with a ‘P’ or was it ‘K’?
Next day fills with Mrs Malaprop
whotsit pen drives brillig crib sheets.
Only the key things cross the neural pathway:
the days that leaked the saltiness of now
the dregs of pain the scent of being loved.